Friday, January 29, 2016

Bridge Blog 879: Buffalo Winter Sectional, Day 3

Playing Swiss teams, I always want to do poorly on the first round. Win those opening seven boards and you’re up against the heavy hitters right away, ripe for slam-dunking.
But Sunday’s first round in the Main-Transit Fire Hall got me rethinking that strategy. Up against C strat players Sharon Wilcox and David Whitt (teamed with Joyce Greenspan and Claire Gareleck), Judie Bailey and I and teammates Larry Abate and Bob Sommerstein wound up with a 6-6 International Match Point tie. I liked it.
It pitted us against another team that tied in the first round. Against Chip Kean and Jim McClure (playing with Bill Rich and Gene Nowatniak), we lost by a single IMP, 14-13, thanks to a missed sacrifice bid that would have saved us some fraction of the 11 IMPs they earned for making a 5 Heart contract. But this being Swiss, I was trying to avoid sacrifices and doubles.
We rebounded against Larry and Dottie Soong (teamed with Beena and Madhav Deshmukh) in the third round, 26-4, then encountered our toughest opponents, Brian Macartney and John Mackay, whom I described to Judie as the Kings of St. Catharines. They tried to deny it, but still outpointed us, 23-18.
Our worst performance came after the lunch break, against Ten-Pao Lee and Linda Burroughsford (teamed with John and Martha Welte), who whupped us 26-10, thanks to my overenthusiastic slam bid on a hand that contained nine Clubs. It cost us 11 of those IMPs.
From there, it was recovery against a Bradford, Pa., couple, 26-8. With one round to go, we had 92 victory points. If we win this last one, I told Larry and Bob, we get bonus points.
This time our opponents were Don Wilks and Kathryn Swayze from St. Catharines (playing with the estimable Paul Pointet and Lezlie Cullen), and they began by bidding 3 Spades and making three overtricks, missing the slam that Larry and Bob bid and made. Nevertheless, it was a wild round. When it was over, we had a 38-17 IMP margin, upping our victory point total to 120.
“I’ve never earned this many points at once,” Larry said he discovered that we had come in second in the B strat (and seventh overall). It was a handsome reward – 3.22 silver. It was Larry and Bob’s first Swiss team game and now they’re ready for more. Judie and I made a date with them for the next Buffalo sectional – the spring tournament in April.  
Somebody said earlier in the weekend that Saleh Fetouh’s team always won the Swiss and everybody else was playing for second place. True again, but this time it was a tight race. Only two victory points separated Saleh, David Hemmer, Chris Urbanek and Bud Seidenberg from the two teams behind them.
We didn’t play any of them. Our highest ranking opponents – the Mackay team and the Lee team –  finished fourth and fifth overall, respectively. The Lee team, with 132 victory points, was first in the B and C strats.
Three of our other opponents also finished with bonus master points – the Kean, Gareleck and Cullen teams, who were ninth, tenth and 11th. Fourteen teams got extra points out of 23 teams overall. 

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